Introduction to Beer Terminology

Wine can be pretentious and annoying. Beer doesn’t have to be.


Berliner Weisse – This is a German style of wheat beer. These beers are tart, acidic, with a cloudy yellow color. A hundred years ago this was the most commonly brewed beer in Berlin, now it can more often be found in American microbreweries.


ESB – ESB stands for either “extra strong bitter”, or more commonly “extra special bitter”.  They have a stronger bitter flavor than most ales. ESBs are not usually hoppy and have a middle range (4 -7%) of alcohol content.  This beer is traditionally popular in the United Kingdom.


Fresh Hop – A beer which is “fresh hopped” is similar to the term “wet hopped'”. This means that the hops where never dried. These beers often have a fresher, stronger hop flavor.


Graff –    A cross between a cider and a beer. Often the cider is mixed in with the beer for the fermentation process. Insanely drinkable.


IBU – International Bittering Units Scale. This measured by magic brewing chemistry. For years I was using the IBU to help me select off of the menu. The higher the IBU generally means that the beer will taste bitterer. However, this depends on the style of the beer as a malt will balance the bitter flavor. A brown ale might have a IBU of 60 but have no bitter flavor due to its malt content.


IPL – India Pale Lager. A much lesser known beer than it’s bitter cousin, the IPL is a lager brewed with a stronger flavored hop, often of the Pacific Northwest varieties.


Kölsch – A German style beer which originated in Cologne. They are filtered and light in color, with low alcohol percentages between four and six percent. After a long period of being dismissed by Craft Brewers, Kölschs are starting to make a comeback in the American market.


Lambic – A Belgium style of beer with a sour, some times yogurt taste. What makes a lambic unique is that it has a open fermentation process where the beer is created using “wild” yeasts. This is done by cooling the wort in open air, allowing nature to take it’s course.


Malt  Grains such as barley or wheat, which have been soaked in water and then air dried. The process is often repeated numerous time. This process causes the grains to begin the sprouting process and turns the grains starches into sugars.


Radler – A beverage which mixes lemon soda with a traditional German style lager. Originally created for bicyclists looking to re-hydrate after each leg of a race.


Rauchbier – A smokey beer which gets its flavor from drying the fresh green malt over an open wood fire


Rye – This style is created when rye malts are added to — or completely replace — standard barely malts. The style has low bitterness, which allows it to merge well with other styles such as RyePAs.


Saison – Also known as a Farmhouse Ale, Saisons originate in Belgium where they would be brewed in farmhouses during the summers. These beers combine fruit and spice flavors and are often a pale gold in color.


Session –  A style of beer is a with less then five percent alcohol percentage. Other than the ABV limit a session can be anything the brewer wants to attempt. Ales and lagers are the best fit for the session style.


Wit – A wit beer is white wheat beer. These beers have very low bitterness and are brewed with spices such as coriander, orange peel or honey.


Wort- The wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process after cooking the grains and malt.

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